This last Tuesday, my third book in 18 months launched. It's been an amazing year and a half, and I still find it strange to call myself an author, let alone being able to add "New York Times Bestselling." It's like getting knighted, or being Prince: You have this title to put in front of your name for the rest of your life, and you can never give it back. It's just a bit surreal.
As is launch day. It's surreal because it's a rather disconnected experience. All the work I did on the book was over months ago, and it's been in the hands of the publisher to finally assemble, put through the printing process, and do all the magical sales stuff that gets copies into your local bookstores on a given day. I wrote and delivered 50,000-odd words, and then sent it off to be finished like the teenage daughter of a middle-class Victorian family. And while I've moved onto things like kitchen renovations and planning for the holidays, people I've never met have been adding value to my work doing their own day job responsibilities. How weird is that?
And then the day comes — a completely arbitrary day, chosen in some meeting by people with keen eyes and savvy minds for picking the perfect lead-time to get a book into stores close enough to the holidays to get traction, but early enough to generate plenty of publicity. This is where I come back into the tornado, because it's time for the PR engine to turn over. Time for a radio tour.
What's a radio tour, I hear you ask? Well, it's kind of like a virtual book tour. Instead of driving from town to town and doing readings at every Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million, Powell's or indie bookstore, I get to tour the country by radio. You know when you hear interviews with authors on your local radio station? Well, the interesting thing is that, quite often, that wasn't the only interview that author did that day. What happens is that we do a series of interviews, 10 minutes here, 15 minutes there, all scheduled out over a morning. We start on the East Coast (and if you live on the West Coast like me, that means getting up really early), and hit a few stations in the South and New England. Then it's a hop to Central time, and maybe we go to Chicago or Cincinnati. Then onto the Mountain Time Zone, and finally to the West. By the end, you've spoken with so many morning shows, it gets hard to remember them all. But the hosts are all fun and engaging people, so the time really zooms by.
After that is when then the compulsion settles in. The compulsion to sit and watch your Amazon book rank and click to refresh every 15 minutes, praying each time that it'll go down a little bit closer. After a while, temporary carpel tunnel settles in.
By the end of the day, you're exhausted. You've probably tweeted book updates a hundred times, or thanked a score of folks on Google+ for buying your book, or posted reviews to your book blog as they came in all day. It's kind of like getting married or having a kid, except there's no big payoff at the end of the day, because when you get up the next morning, you'll just start a new, normal day, and it'll be like it never happened.
Well, except for the Amazon compulsion. That never really goes away.
I've loved to write since I was in high school, and having the chance to be published is amazing. It's not easy. It takes a lot of work, not just the writing part, but all the other stuff you have to put into it to make it go. But like getting married to my wonderful wife, and having two great kids, I have these three books to look at and know that I accomplished something bigger than myself. And like that title, they can never be taken away from me.
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Ken Denmead is the editor of GeekDad, a blog on Wired magazine's website. A professional civil engineer, he lives near San Francisco with his wife and their two sons, who are both geeks in training. He is the author of three books, including Geek Dad: Awesomely Geeky Projects and Activities for Dads and Kids to Share.
Books mentioned in this post
Ken Denmead is the author of Geek Dad: Awesomely Geeky Projects and Activities for Dads and Kids to Share